My previous several posts have described a credit card experiment I started last August — about 8 months ago. During 2014 I went from 2 cards to 5 and tripled my available credit. Instead of paying off about $12,000 in business debt, I transferred it to a card with zero-transfer fee and an introductory rate of 0% for 15 months.
On thing I learned is that the credit-score simulators I used were pretty inaccurate. My score dipped, but over 8 months has recovered all but 10 points. It tends to keep ticking up about 2 points per month — presumably because my “age of credit history” — the average age of my credit cards, really — gets a month older each month (obviously).
I have all of my cards on auto pay. I have all but my “balance transfer” card set to pay the full balance every month. Thus I never pay interest or finance charges. For the “balance transfer” card, I have auto-pay set up to pay the minimum statement balance. On this card there is 0% APR on balance transfers until September. This card just sits in a drawer. I will pay it off in full in September. Until then I will continue to enjoy 0% interest.
I’ve benefited by my choice of cards. It may be a small thing, but 1.5% cash back adds up after a while. And 5% cash back on “rotating categories” can be nice depending on the categories. I almost always simply apply the cash back rewards to my current balance. Logging on to check my cash back is also a good incentive to review my cards for any suspicious charges.
I also have credit monitoring that double-checks for charges or other activity that may indicate “identity theft”, or simply errors like being double-charged for a purchase. Personal diligence is the first line of defense against ID theft, and anything like cash-back rewards that makes it fun to log into your account means you have a better chance of catching ID theft early.
I’ve read that credit card fraud often starts with small charges. The criminal is just checking to see if you are vigilant or lazy in your credit monitoring. If you catch these small charges quickly and get them reversed/cancelled you are likely avoiding big fraudulent charges later.
I hope you found these credit score articles useful. Best of luck in your credit score journey. And please feel free to shared your credit stories (or questions) by leaving a comment.